The betacup sustainable drink cup task force has announced the winners of its open innovation challenge to reduce paper cup consumption. Fast casual Starbucks Coffee Co. sponsored the contest as part of its aim to serve 100 percent of its hand-crafted beverages in reusable or recyclable cups by 2015.
The winning idea is Karma Cup, with special jury mentions going to Band of Honor, The Betacup & The Betacup Campaign, and Champion Cup.
"We're really excited about the outcome," said Shaun Abrahamson from Colaboratorie Mutopo, a group of mass collaboration specialists who co-founded the betacup. "I think the betacup shows that using social tools to engage and organize people around an issue can yield very useful outcomes. The community and jury selections point to a wide range of interesting options that, together, offer short- and long-term steps to eliminate paper cup waste."
The contest took place on the betacup's partner platform, a leading open innovation platform and creative community. Ideas were submitted from April 1 to June 1 and remained open to the public for discussion and rating through June 15. The participant who submitted the best idea, determined by an expert panel, will receive a $10,000 cash prize. In addition, participants whose ideas were among the top five selected by the community of collaborators will each be awarded a $2,000 cash prize.
Starbucks provided $20,000 in cash prizes for the contest. The company also offered participants commentary and feedback throughout the contest period.
"We know we can't solve the disposable cup waste issue alone," said Jim Hanna, Starbucks director of environmental impact. "Consumers can play an important role by sharing creative ideas and spreading the word, as they've done with the betacup. It's this kind of passion and enthusiasm that will help the reusable cup movement gain real momentum."
In 2009 Starbucks served more than 26 million beverages in reusable cups in its company-owned stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. This simple shift in behavior kept nearly 1.2 million pounds of paper from ending up in landfills.
Interest in recyclable, reusable and compostable cups and packaging has grown as communities such as San Francisco and Seattle have passed laws requiring either recycling and composting or that restaurants use only recyclable or compostable throw-away packaging. Consumer interest in such packaging also has grown.
In addition to Starbucks, the betacup was made possible through the support of a number of other organizations, including media partner Core77; Denuo, an innovations unit of Publicis Groupe and Good Day Monster; and Threadless, a community-centered online apparel store run by skinnyCorp.

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